Saturday, January 14, 2006


James has tagged me to tell you some stuff about films.

I feel a bit fraudulent doing this, as it’s one of those chain questionnaire things that is really meant for screenwriters and film people. I’ve never made a film, unless you count the Jesuit road movie that the lovely S, ex-Mr S, ex-Mr P and I made in France in 2002, called The Fleas of Jesus; a title that was designed to translate to the equally euphonic Les Puces de Jésus in case they ever wanted to show it at the Curzon.

Sadly the master tapes* were stolen during the Great Kentish Town Flat Robbery of 2003, which is obviously the world’s loss.

I have slightly more experience of scriptwriting, inasmuch as I spent a lot of time in the sixth form writing Abstract Expressionist plays that were designed never to be performed, only read. At the time I thought this was terribly avant-garde, which just goes to show what an insufferably pretentious twat I was then (and indeed, still am).

But enough of this claptrap! On with the show!

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:
My Mum taking me to see The Rescuers in Inverness. I checked and it came out in 1977, which means I must have been six or seven. Mind you, given the length of time it used to take for cultural phenomena to filter up to the far north of Scotland, I was probably more like nineteen. All I remember is being very, very frightened. Mice are scary!


TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:
Oo, that’s *so* difficult to choose, seeing as almost every line is a classic in two of my favourite films, viz. Withnail & I (no groaning at the back there) and Ed Wood. Here’s one from each:

WITHNAIL (observing road sign): Look at that. “Accident Blackspot”. These aren’t accidents; they’re throwing themselves into the road, gladly, to escape all this hideousness. (To bystander) Throw yourself into the road, darling, you haven’t got a chance!

ED WOOD: Now, what is the one thing, if you put it in a movie, it'll be successful?
ED WOOD: No, better than that. A star.
PRODUCER: You must have me confused with David Selznick. I don't make major motion pictures; I make crap.
ED WOOD: Yes, but if you take that crap and put a star in it, then you've got something.
PRODUCER: Yeah. Crap with a star in it.

THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the industry:
Cult hero

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
Well hey, I’ve never been in the film industry, but boy, have I scaled the ladder in the equally sexy junk mail industry:

1993: Your plucky young heroine is working all hours in a warehouse on an industrial estate just outside Exeter, heat-sealing mail-order catalogues into plastic packaging.


1999: Disillusioned with the world of holographic wall art and celebrity chocolate sponsorship, your heroine quits her job at top five global PR firm to stay home and write junk mail for IT companies. Fortunately this coincides with the dotcom boom, so your heroine makes tons of cash.


2003: Sick of commuting and everything being silver, your heroine quits the dream corporate job she accidentally got when the boom ended, moves to the south of France to look after her ailing (now better again) mother and ekes a living writing junk mail for IT companies. These are dark days for the technology industry. Your heroine doesn’t make much cash at all, a situation that she attempts to offset by buying a big white van and setting up an intermittently successful French antiques business on eBay.


2006: Your heroine is now director of an alarmingly successful junk mail writing agency, churning out event invitations, promotional postcards and those irritating things that fall out of magazines when you open them at a phenomenal rainforest-decimating rate. Yes folks, I'm afraid your heroine turned out to be an evil capitalista whore!


THREE (3) book authors I like:
Neal Stephenson
Lawrence Durrell
Hanif Kureishi

TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:
No idea about this (apart from maybe casting myself in Keira Knightley’s role in Pirates of the Caribbean – I’d be much better, and I wouldn’t make the mistake of not getting it on with Captain Jack Sparrow while drunk on a desert island, tsk) so I’ll say two books I’d like to see made into films (not by me, obviously, because my digital videocamera got stolen, and anyway they’d be crap): Cold Comfort Farm (this one would be fairly easy), and Cryptonomicon (this one wouldn’t).

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:
Lord, not a clue, but I know that whoever wrote the script for the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean is woefully over-rated.

THREE (3) people I'm tagging to answer this meme** next:
I wasn’t going to do this because I don’t know any filmy-scriptwritery people, but this has been much more fun to write than I thought it would be. So, if you feel like it, take it away Merkin, GSE and (leftfield choice, this, as I’m not sure he even reads this) Mr Whiskers!

* I know nothing about the film industry. Seriously.

** This isn’t a meme. As far as I’m aware, a meme is an action or an attitude that gets spontaneously copied and evolves over time. This is, like, one of those chain things.


james henry said...

I don't know anything about the film industry either, but The Fleas Of Jesus sounds great.

cello said...

*So* tempting to leave my own version - despite lack of tagging - but I'll just say that I'd otherwise like to be

1)a florist
2)a chiropodist
3)a capitalist whore who really had her heart in it

But 'The Rescuers' were very cute and helped re-habilitate mice after one scaring me witless in the shed. I yearned to wear little fur hats like Miss Whateverhernamewas who Zsa Zsa Gabor voiced.

Did you ever see 'The Rescuers Down Under'? Very uplifting opening sequence involving a golden eagle and music worthy of Elmer Bernstein.

cello said...

I've just followed your link and it was Eva Gabor apparently, not Zsa Zsa, and the character was called Miss Bianca. Just thought that might bother someone.

Spinsterella said...

Particularly brilliant post here P.

Abstract Expressionist plays?

Frig. I wanted to be pretentious and creative when I was in 6th form too, but I didn't actually do anything about it. Just read lots of books that I didn't quite understand and hung around town in my second-hand frocks giving evil looks to all the Pseuds.

What a twat.

patroclus said...

Spin, *all* I wanted to do when I was in the sixth form was wear second-hand frocks, read pretentious books and hang around town centres looking moody. But I wasn't nearly tall, pretty or miserable enough for any of that, plus I lived in the middle of nowhere. So writing Abstract Expressionist plays was the only option, really.

What a twat.

Merkin said...

Oh bloody hell. All right. Might be fun, actually. Watch my space....

PS Spent w/e in London. Don't ever dine at Sofra in St Christopher Place. Only the second place in my life I've paid less than the bill, even after I'd taken off the Service Charge.

Dave F said...

The writer of Pirates of the Caribbean was Terry Rossio, who runs an incredibly useful (free) website for aspiring screenwriters called Wordplay. He and partner Ted Elliot also wrote The Mask of Zorro and Shrek. A-list, baby.

patroclus said...

Hmm, you know Dave, I kind of had an idea that was the case. But it doesn't alter the fact that I was terribly disappointed by the POTC script. I don't expect Mr Rossio is too worried, though.

Fun Joel said...

Thanks for helping perpetuate this. :-) Lots of thrills for me!

And Ed Wood is a big fave movie of mine.